Flashback: When an England cricketer won a bet by scoring a fifty in a Test match

Flashback: When an England cricketer won a bet by scoring a fifty in a Test match

From being out of the squad he was leading them in the last three Tests.

Lord Lionel Hallam Tennyson
The Right Honorable Lord Lionel Hallam Tennyson, circa 1922. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

England cricket didn’t resume on a great note after the World War I as they went down 0-5 in the 1920/21 Ashes in Australia and a 10-wicket defeat in the first home Test in Nottingham forced a bulk of changes in the team. The selection panel looked towards Lionel Hallam Tennyson, former International and Hampshire batsman who was nowhere in the reckoning. Lord Tennyson, who was well known for his gambling skills, had scored a couple of hundreds while leading his team in the County Championship.

The Hampshire skipper scored an unbeaten 131 against Lancashire ahead of the Oval Test but couldn’t save his team from a defeat. The 131-run knock was a follow-up to his 101 against Yorkshire which also was on a losing cause. After the completion of the game against Lancashire, Tennyson went to a club on Old Bond Street in London, well past midnight, when he received the news of his call-up for the Lord’s Test match starting the following morning.

Lost the match won the but

Lord Lionel Hallam Tennyson hits
Honourable Lord Lionel Hallam Tennyson at Lord’s cricket ground. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Tennyson walked out to bat at No.7 on the first day after his team won the toss. His comeback innings was cut short to five runs as he was stumped off Arthur Mailey. England were bowled for only 187 and the visitors replied by posting 342 runs. Tennyson came out to bat once again at No.7 when England were 165/5 and levelled Australia’s first-innings lead. The 31-year-old ensured he didn’t waste his 2nd chance by scoring an unbeaten fifty.

He scored an unbeaten 74 in 102 minutes with nine fours batting out with the tail to help his team make 283 in the 2nd innings. The Australians chased down the target of 129 for the loss of two wickets to take a 2-0 lead in the 5-match Test series. Tennyson’s fifty not only helped him feature in the remainder of the series but also won him a bet of £50. Ahead of the match, the England batsman struck a £50 wager that he would score a fifty in the Test.


Jack Hobbs recovered from his leg injury but suffered appendicitis on the first day morning in the next match at the Leeds. He didn’t take the field in the remainder of the match and the captaincy responsibilities were handed over to Lord Tennyson. The new England skipper also split his hand but was gritty enough to score 63 and 36 respectively batting with one hand.

Lord Lionel Hallam Tennyson
A police escort for the England captain, the Honorable Lord Lionel Hallam Tennyson, as he walks out to inspect the wicket after a lengthy rain delay. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

However, the Australians clinched the series with a 219-run win and took a 3-0 lead. Tennyson remained as the England captain in the final two Test matches and England put up a strong fight. However, Australia managed to draw both the Tests and kept their lead intact until the end of the series. Tennyson scored 51 in the only innings he batted across the last two Tests but never appeared in a Test for England.

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